The Ocean

by Nicole Cross

  • OneTruePlaceNicoleCross-1

The ocean has always been a part of my life, I cannot imagine living more than a short drive from it. When I was younger, my mom would always take us to the beach if we had a spare day. If we didn’t have a spare day, we would play hooky.

My sister and I were very good little swimmers, so we were allowed to swim by ourselves when our mom was too cold or too tired, as adults get. But us, we could stay in the water all day.

I remember how sometimes we would lie with our bellies on the sandy floor waiting for the too rough waves to pass over our heads until we couldn’t hold our breaths any longer. Then we would jump to the top and reevaluate, sometimes having to duck immediately. I would shout orders, typical bossy older sister. When we couldn’t take it any longer, we would fight our way through the waves and run, shivering, for our towels. Careful to pick up as little sand on our feet and legs as possible as cold skin and tiny rocks are no great combination.

Currently, I live about five blocks from the ocean. When I leave in the morning and when the ocean becomes visible on my drive home, I always look over my shoulder to see what it looks like at that moment. I know it’s there and I know what it looks like, and yet I always look.

Have you ever watched someone looking at the ocean? Watching, waiting eyes. Sometimes happy, sometimes sad, often pensive. I always wonder what they are thinking. I wonder what brought them to the ocean that day. What they are looking for, for what question they are seeking an answer. The ocean can make you and your problems feel smaller on a bad day. And on a good day, it makes the world feel full of endless possibilities.

My mom’s ashes are in the ocean. On the morning of her memorial service I wrote this poem in my sleep, woke up and quickly scribbled it down. She was a great poet, and this was the only time I had ever written a poem that was not assigned to me.

My mom is like the ocean
Far too vast to understand

My mom is like the ocean
How she danced upon the sand

If I told you how I loved her so
Would you even understand?

My mom is like the ocean
How I long to hold her hand.

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